Origins of Philippine-Italian Friendship

What brought together the lasting relationship of these two countries so far apart from each other, geographically? What strengthens the bonds of Filipinos and Italians? H.E. Amintore Fanfani, President of the Senate of the Republic of Italy, in his written message at the unveiling of the Pigafetta Monument in Cebu City on April 12, 1980 summed it up to say:

... that the monument not only commemorates Pigafetta but also the bonds that unite the Italian and Filipino peoples.

Antonio Pigafetta was the first Italian to set foot in the Philippines and PIA built a historical landmark — more later.

What he forgot to mention is that Filipinos and Italians are passionate lovers of everything in life. They believe in “joie de vivre!” A passion for appetizing cuisine, genuine and lasting friendships — an innate love for music, culture and the arts — a passion for life itself! At the drop of a hat — they will break into song, dance, laughter and fun!

It was for these very reasons that on February 19, 1962, Italian Ambassador, Eugenio Rubino and Philippine Ambassador to the Vatican, Proceso E. Sebastian, founded the Philippine-Italian Association, or more fondly known as “PIA.”

Signora Lina Paolini Lorenzo,
the Founding of PIA,
and oUR first 50 years

Six months later, Signora Lina Paolini Lorenzo was appointed Secretary General until she passed away on October 7, 2011, just a few months before PIA’s Golden Anniversary in 2012. She served PIA for 49 years through her selfless and tireless efforts in promoting true friendship between Italy and the Philippines. Her dedication was amply rewarded and recognized by the Republic of Italy. The highest rank award ever given to an Italian living outside the country was bestowed on her on November 18, 2003 — Knight Commander “Ordine della Stella della Solidarieta Italianna.”

The very existence of PIA all these past 50 years is credited to her unselfish dedication and loyalty to her job. PIA was her “baby” and she dedicated her whole life with such “gusto”!

At the “Volare Notte Italiana” 2004, the Italian President, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, through H.E. Ambassador Umberto Colesanti, conferred individual awards — “Ordine della Stella della Solidarieta” rank of Knight Commander on Philippine Ambassador, Bienvenido R. Tantoco, Sr. and his daughter, Zenaida Rustia Tantoco — “for their significant contribution to the enhancement of the prestige of Italy and the diffusion of Italian culture and lifestyle.”

The Philippine-Italian Association believes in its Mission of encouraging, developing, promoting and nurturing friendship and understanding between Italians and Filipinos. PIA manifests its aims through networking and programs of cultural, educational, scientific and technological ex changes. In the last 50 years, it has successfully organised a spectrum of activities. This will continue into the future. The Association aspires to influence and enrich lifestyles in the community.

our cultural events &
The birth of our Language Services

Launched in the first decade and into the future is the teaching of Italian language courses, in-house tutorials and in the various institutions in Metro Manila. Organizing Italian film showings, festivals, tours and trips to historical landmarks of outstanding Filipino and Italian artists; offering Italian library facilities and a variety of services — translations, documentation and other business needs.

In cooperation with the Italian Embassy co-sponsoring regular lecture series, supporting exchange scholarship programs, cultural interchanges activities like concerts, musicals, art exhibits, master classes of art restoration experts, bazaars and other significant events are always on the agenda. Periodically, in cooperation with multi-sectional institutes and agencies, events are organised and co-sponsored whenever feasible.

The premier annual event is the colorful “Notte Italiana” — a major pacesetter. Designed to promote and foster Filipino-Italian friendship and comaraderie — a kaleidoscope of activities range from regional Italian cuisine to concerts and musicales featuring famed international artistes. Among them were Italian violinist Uto Ughi, Cecile Licad, world-renowned Filipino Pianist and many more.

In 2002, PIA’s 40th Ruby Anniversary, “Carnevale Italiano Duemiladue” was a most colorful evening of masked and costumed Venetian personalities — such revelry!

In celebration of PIA’s Golden Jubilee 2012, the much-applauded Gioachino Rossini’s, “II Barbiere di Siviglia in Manila”  was a main event for PIA’s “Notte Italiana”.  Leading Italian and Filipino operatic stars delighted audiences, under the baton of PIA member, Maestro Ruggero Barbieri, guest conductor of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, who flew-in all the way from Bergamo.

A very special project of the Philippine-Italian Association is the ultimate publishing of the life and works of Maestro Diosdado Magno Lorenzo. A dream that Signora Lina Paolini Lorenzo kept hopes in her heart for — all these years. The Lorenzo coffee-table book — “Art Rebel to Legend” with Alice Guillermo, author, in collaboration with two PIA directors — Silvana Ancellotti Diaz and Betty Ildefonso-Chalkey, editorial consultant. This book was launched at the National Museum of the Philippines, and finally published by the Philippine-Italian Association and the Tantonco-Rustia Foundation in 2009.

Our Global Affiliation
in the Name of Enriching Culture

Aside from the multi-faceted cultural exchanges among European language groups — a new dimension has been added recently. The official signing of the founding documents of the EUNIC (European Union National Institutes for Culture) Cluster Philippines on Bastille Day July 14, 2011 was hosted by the Alliance Francaise de Manille. A non-political body, founded by the Goethe Institute and co-founders — the Philippine-Italian Association and the Alliance Francaise will broaden and improve cultural programs of most of the cultural institutes in the country in cooperation with embassies in Manila. It will network with European societies to strengthen international dialogue and communication with countries outside Europe. Membership is encouraged.

PIA at the Turn of the Century
and at Present

For all these glorious years full of rich memories and the benevolence of our loyal members, patrons, sponsors, admirers and believers in our Mission — the Philippine-Italian Association exists all these 50 years without any financial support from any government, local and foreign. Fund-raising events, projects and, the generosity of our followers have woven for PIA — A Tapestry of Golden Friendships  which supports and maintains its goals!

In the year 2000, through the dynamic leadership of Ms Zenaida Rustia Tantoco when she assumed the PIA presidency, it has been a roller-coaster ride all the way to the present — where she still holds the helm! With the full support of Ambassador Bienvenido R. Tantoco, PIA’s longest-serving president, the Philippine-Italian Association Endowment Fund was launched with a bang! The generous endorsement of the Ferragamo Family, the Italian Embassy in cooperation with Alitalia, Shangri-La Hotel and the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation made all this possible.

On July 29 2017, the Philippine-Italian Association celebrated its 55th anniversary.
Here is the toast given by Mrs. Silvana Diaz, VP for Culture ot the PIA.


Here an info-graphic on the first 55 years of the Philippine Italian Association